Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Beyond The "Seeker Movement"

Frankly, this article comes along at a very good time. After some findings, Bill Hybels realizes that programs alone won't get the job done. Affecting individual lives is what counts. Excerpt below along with the link.

(Start of quote)
Speaking at the Leadership Summit, Hybels summarized the findings this way:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

Having spent thirty years creating and promoting a multi-million dollar organization driven by programs and measuring participation, and convincing other church leaders to do the same, you can see why Hybels called this research “the wake up call” of his adult life.

Hybels confesses:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage.

Does this mark the end of Willow’s thirty years of influence over the American church? Not according to Hawkins:

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet. (End quotes)

I'm not fond of programs that just get people "plugged" into an area of service without ministering to their obvious needs. They said it best above with the comment that it really takes age old spiritual practices of bible reading, prayer and fellowship. I want to go on record and say that I believe that Bill Hybels is a decent upright Christian. I think his pragmatism was a bit off with the whole program and "seeker movement" mentality. However, to be fair, aren't we all supposed to learn? I'd rather have a few believers in a small church that are being feed, nourished and that grow than a big organization where a number is stamped on your jacket.

This world with today's technology too is causing more people to become lonlier all the time. Has it really gotten us anywhere? People don't call anyone anymore (for the most part), everything is done by email. Friends get dumped by the wayside because everyone is way too busy. I think a new priority of "people first" should come into play. Remember the scriptures say, "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others." (Phil 2:4) The message is clear. We need to be reaching out to individuals. And...programs for the most part, in my opinion, won't get the job done. I do give Bill Hybels credit for standing up and being honest. I've heard him speak in person many times. I believe he was doing what he felt was needed. I hope this report gives him clear direction as to what to do next.

As the end times grow rapidly upon us, it'll take more prayer, study of scripture and reaching out to others "one-on-one" to get the job done. That's just my take. I'll throw this in for free by the way. Don't put your trust in things like TV and TBN. Find a good church where people truly care. The TV guys won't be there when you get sick and need prayer. If we followed the example of the early church and how they met together we might be better off. Be well all.



    The FIRST thing you should ask the pastor when you leave your old church to go to the one a few blocks away is, "What kind of programs do you have for my kids?" and then, "How will your church fill my spiritual needs?"

    Your thoughts are right on. I'm no fan of the mega-church and I think the "seeker sensitive" mentality has done more harm than good.

  2. Your last paragraph is a perfect summation of how I feel too! This was such an interesting post.